Broader, Bolder, Better!

Rachel Wise, District 3, Nebraska State Board of Education (June, 2015)

Rachel Wise

Rachel Wise

Two very important topics addressed at the State Board of Education meeting in June were Career Education and Nebraska’s new system of accountability, AQuESTT—Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow. The Nebraska Department of Education introduced the concept of Broader—Bolder—Better to define the work of accountability, but I think the phrase applies to both topics I will write about this month.

The month of June started off with the annual Nebraska Career Education Conference in Kearney. It was an honor and privilege to attend this conference and to learn of the great work of career education teachers in schools across Nebraska. This past year, a Nebraska State Board of Education study committee chaired by John Witzel tackled the topic of career education in Nebraska. The committee’s recommendations were presented to teachers and administrators at the Kearney conference and again to the State Board. The recommendations described as opportunities in the report included the need to: address the teacher shortage in career education; maintain and expand the quality and student access to career education programs; infuse career readiness across grade levels and curricular areas; develop meaningful workplace experiences for students as a model for career guidance.

The next steps are to implement the strategies tied to these opportunities across schools in Nebraska. Some examples of the strategies include: defining career readiness for students in Nebraska; developing more opportunities for career-based virtual learning experiences to help students learn about career pathways in Nebraska; develop scholarships or loan forgiveness programs for teachers going into career education fields. If you know young people who are thinking about pursuing a career in education, encourage the fields of Agriculture, Business and Marketing, Family and Consumer Sciences, Health Sciences, Industrial Technology and Engineering or Information Technology. Once these recommendations are implemented, I believe Career Education in Nebraska will be Broader—Bolder—Better!

On to the next topic which is much more difficult to write about. State Board members we have all spent a great deal of time thinking about—accountability. For us, accountability is AQuESTT—Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow.

In March, I wrote about the new system of accountability and the primary indicators that will be used to classify schools. This month, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) updated the State Board on the process that will be used to classify schools as excellent, great, good or needs improvement. Within the needs improvement classification, the three schools in most need of improvement and subsequently, intervention will be designated as priority schools. NDE staff also shared information and timelines about that identification process. Outcome measures such as growth and improvement on Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) assessments and high school graduation rates will be used for the first step in the process called “raw classification.” After these outcome measures are calculated, a process called “evidence-based analysis” that looks at other indicators or quality factors such as teacher certification, curriculum or instructional practices will occur. All this information will be used in the “final classification” and in the development of a School Profile that designates a school’s classification level and describes the characteristics that resulted in the school’s classification. This sounds pretty complicated, and in some ways it is!! However, in looking at the plans and processes, I think once schools, communities, parents and students see the School Profiles, they will start to understand why their schools or districts were classified as excellent, great, good or in need of improvement.

The members of the State Board of Education and the Nebraska Department of Education staff are committed to more than just classifying schools and designating three priority schools. We are committed to helping schools improve. AQuESTT is being developed to inform schools on areas of strengths and needs and to help schools with systems of support so they become Broader—Bolder—Better!

This article represents my personal view, not that of the State Board of Education or my role as president. Feel free to contact me at Search the Nebraska Department of Education website at to learn more about education in our state.


About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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